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{ Linux at home | Installation | The installer }

The Linux installer

We use the "netinst" installer, which is a few 100 MByte in size and can be burnt to CD. It can also be copied to a USB stick. The installer contains everything needed to install a minimal Debian Linux system, but any realistic installation will require an Internet connection.


The Debian website
The Debian website.

We then have to download two things from the Internet. First of course the netinst installer itself. But then also an application that will allow us under Windows to copy the installer to a USB stick. Let us start with the installer (for Debian stable):

  1. Take your web browser to and click on "Download" (screenshot).
  2. The download starts automatically after a few seconds. Check that the file name reflects the correct platform. Usually this should be "amd64". If your computer is very old and has only a 32-bit processor, then it should be "i386" screenshot).
  3. Store the ISO file on your computer.

If you want to install Debian testing, then the installer is not so easy to find:

  1. Take your web browser to and click on "More" in the right column (screenshot).
  2. Then click on "Download: More variants ..."
  3. In the footer, clicken on "Release Info"; screenshot)
  4. Click on "testing" (screenshot).
  5. Click on "the Debian-Installer page" (screenshot).
  6. Under "Current daily snapshots" / "netinst" click on "amd64" (if your computer is very old and has only a 32-bit processor, "i386"; screenshot).
  7. Store the ISO file on your computer.
The Rufus download page
The Rufus download page.

You could burn the ISO file to CD, but CD drives are no longer common. A USB stick is probably more useful. To copy the ISO file to a stick under Windows we use a special utility "Rufus" (Balard 2019a):

  1. Take your web browser to and under "Download" click on "Rufus 3.4" (on the latest version, screenshot).
  2. Store the .exe file on your computer.

Copy to USB Stick or CD

If you have access to a Linux system, then copying the ISO file to the USB stick is very simple. Plug in the stick and find out which device file it is (e.g. /dev/sdb). If the stick has been mounted automatically, unmount it. Then:

  sudo cp debian-buster-DI-alpha5-amd64-netinst.iso /dev/sdb

Warning: If you use the wrong device file name here, then it is likely that you destroy the running operating system and all user data.

The Rufus application
The Rufus application.

On Windows we use the Rufus application for the same purpose:

  1. Start the application by opening the .exe file.
  2. Plug in the USB stick; the list of devices should change. The new device is the stick (screenshot).
  3. Select the stick.
    Warning: If the wrong device is chosen, then there is the danger that valuable data are destroyed. In an extreme case this might be your Windows system.
  4. Click the "Select" button (screenshot).
  5. Find the ISO file and open it (screenshot).
  6. Various settings should now have changed. Click on the "Start" button (screenshot).
  7. Confirm that the application may download further data (screenshot).
  8. Confirm writing in "ISO Image" mode; this is the default selection (screenshot).
  9. Confirm the warning that your USB stick will now be wiped. (With many sticks there will be two separate warnings, screenshot.)
  10. Now the copy process begins. The green bar shows the progress (screenshot).
  11. When the copy is complete the green bar will show "Ready". Close the application and ask Windows to prepare the stick for removal (screenshot).